The United States, Britain and France teamed up in the U.N. Security Council today to veto three black African resolutions calling for sweeping economic and military sanctions against South Africa.
Following the vote, Security Council President Rikhi Jaipal of India summoned delegates to his chambers in an effort to work out a compromise resolution that would impose a paemanent, mandatory arms embargo against the white minority government in Pretoria.
U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young said that the Carter Administration, which orginally proposed a six-month renewable arms embargo on South Africa, is now willing to go along with a permanent arms ban.
Negotiations bogged down, however, over African demands that any resolution explicitly declare South Africa "a threat to international peace and security."
A compromise resolution was finally presented tonight by Canada and West Germany that would declare that "the policies and acts of the South African government are fraught with danger to international peace and security," and sources said they expect the Africans to go along with the weaker formulation.
It appeared, however, that the Security Council will adjourn to give delegates time to consult with their governments, and that a formal vote to impose mandatory sanctions against a member nation for the first time in the U.N. history would not take place until at least Wednesday.
Earlier, the Security Council unanimously adopted a fourth African sponsored resolution condemning "the South African racist regime for its resort to massive violence and repression" against the country's black majority.
The United States, Britain, and France, together with other two Western nations currently serving on the Security Council, Canada and West Germany, made it clear, however, that they felt the black African call for sweeping sanctions went too far.
Young, who had worked hard in private consultations to avoid casting his first U.N. veto against a resolution favoted by black Africa, told African members of the Security Council he felt they were "just not tactically wise" in forcing a vote.
"We cannot win the progress we want without holding out some hoep of reconcilation in return," Young declared.
West German Ambassador rudiger von Wechma took a similar approach. "A complete isolation of South Africa at this time would leave us with no possibility of exercising any influence," he said.
Delegates of the three African countries currently serving on the Security Council - Benin, Mauritius and Libya - insisted it was the unanimous decision of the 49 member African bloc to press for a vote on the tougher sanctions. Several privately hinted at pressures from home.
"We Africans do appreaciate the difficulties of the five Western powers," declared Ambassador Radha Krishna Ramphul of Mauritius. "We only ask them to appreciate our own difficulties."
U.S. officials said today that they believe three factors played a major part in the African decision to force their tougher resolutions to a vote.
First, there was too much of a belief among some of the Africans that the U.S. would not veto the broader sanctions. Said Ambassador Donald F. McHenry, deputy U.S. representative. "As long as there was this lingering doubt, there could be no serious negotiations."
Officials said some members of the African group were determined to push the resolutions in an effort to split the united front taken by the five Western nations on the question of U.N. sanctions against Pretoria.
Beyond that McHenry said, he felt "there were some who saw this as a way of undercutting an increasing dangerous influence of Andrew Young among the Africans."
U.S. officials stoutly denied, however, that vetoing the three African resolutions dealt a setback to the Carter administration's policies toward black Africa or to Young's personal credibility with African leaders.
As a matter of fact, it may have gone some way toward maintaining his credibility," McHenry said.
"He has said all along that if he came upon a situation that the U.S. felt in good conscience it could not support he would have no reluctance to vote against it. And he did."